25 February 2010

DRM done (at least mostly) right!!

Amazingly, despite the trend over the last few years regarding console to PC ports of games, Battlefield Bad Company 2 is looking really good. Not only is the game specifically designed to cater to the sensibilities of the PC (dedicated servers, server browser list, mouse interface, etc.) but its DRM also makes sense!!

If you're playing the single player game it only requires a CD/DVD check via securom. It does not contact the authentication server to see if there are activations available. If you want to play online then it does - you have to authenticate it once and that authentication lasts for 10,000 days before being required to re-authenticate. Another good feature is that when you uninstall the game, it automatically reclaims the authentication slot if you're connected to the internet as opposed to other games where you have to do it manually before you uninstall with a second, stand alone programme (I'm looking at you Dead Space and Crysis: Warhead).

Unfortunately, the game isn't perfect in its implementation. There's no LAN play, for example, and the DRM still has limited authentications but i'm impressed with the lack of online requirement to play the single player game. I seriously hope that this is a trend that is going to take hold in the gaming industry.

10 February 2010

Podcast! The Easy Button: Episode 2

Welcome back! Join us again on a journey of self-discovery, rambling overtures and general nonsense.

The Easy Button: Episode 2

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Once again, we have the games we've been playing: Aurora, Batman:Arkham Asylum and a few others to be sure.

Light sabers and their deadliness.

We talk about genres that we used to play and that have fallen out of our favour.

....and i have a rambling diatribe about the different types of gamer and how their choices can inform the evolution of games.

7 February 2010

Dear Vegas 2 developers...

Did you realise that your game is a little frustrating? I'm not talking about the good sort of frustrating that comes from a difficult challenge, either. I'm talking about the intentional cock-blocking and overall asshattery of your team mates who seem to think that in order to advance their own career that I must be removed, allowing them to take my place as squad leader.

I can't think of any tactical situation where moving out of cover, seeing tangos (sorry, i mean enemies) and trying to duck back into the same cover is not an inconceivable solution to the problem of avoiding death. However, my team mates immediately melt into the space my shadow was previously occupying with alarming regularity. Surely bullets penetrate even lightly armoured targets as myself and them standing/crouching so closely might result in their own untimely death. I didn't tend to notice this and other pathing issues that crop up frequently of the two AI-controlled squad members in Vegas 1 so i'm assuming that someone out there in developer land didn't remember the old adage of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"...

Of arguably greater insult is the whole restart procedure whereby design leads (presumably) made the decision to have most equipment restock chests just after the last save checkpoint meaning that i have to re-equip any changes or refill my ammo/grenades every time i die in the sequence that follows that checkpoint. Not only is this particular oversight frustrating but it is accompanied by the decisions to a) not be able to clip through your team mates (or in fact, walk in a half metre radius around them or slide past them when at that half metre radius) and b) spawn with them directly in front of you and the line of progression, effectively making an impassable barrier to move forward each time you die and respawn until their dim-witted AI routines realise that you in fact do not want to "sex them up" by rubbing your body against their invisible clipping wall in a mime-icry of any true sexual act and instead wish merely to pass by their location.

Other than that, the game is okay, i guess. The sound could do with being balanced better in some circumstances when your audio settings for 99% of the game are fine but then for one or two "cutscenes" you are unable to distinguish the voice actors from the background noise of the helicopter despite having changed nothing.

Please could you address these issues in Vegas 3 (or whatever you're planning on doing with the Rainbow Six series next).

Kind regards,

3 February 2010

Podcast! The Easy Button: Episode 1


We have a podcast, myself and Taylor (from the GWJ forums) and it's called The Easy Button. It's, surprisingly, a podcast about games and our love (and sometimes hate) of all things gaming.

Anyway here's the first episode:

The Easy Button: Episode 1

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Enjoy and leave feedback in the comments.